Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Stopping full-time RVing like a “hot potato”?

By Chuck Woodbury
A reader wrote to me with this comment. I thought I would share it with you in case you were interested. He wrote:

Dear Chuck,
I am amazed at your change of attitude about full-time RVing. I followed your past full-time adventures with interest. I was quite surprised when you dropped full-timing like a hot potato. Not to be negative toward you or your RVing practices, just an observation of a person who was actually considering it. Thank you for your contributions to RVing.

I responded:

Dear whoever you are (you did not leave your name),
I have spent at least eight cumulative years on the road (probably more) in my 35 total years of being an RVer, so I know pretty well what it’s like to travel with an RV. The recent two years of full-timing was a great experience, but like many other RVers it proved less satisfying than I had envisioned. Part-time RVing works better for me, especially since I am still running a business. The business was starting to suffer in my absence, and if that were to continue it would hurt a lot of people who depend on it. And I missed associating in person with my staff.

But I did not drop full-timing like a “hot potato.” Gail and I began our full-time adventure with the idea that we would test the waters. And we had a great time. I have no doubt that we will spend many months at a time in our RV in the future, just not year-round without a sticks-and-bricks home to return to.

I don’t know how long you have been an RVer, but I have been one more than half of my life. And I can tell you that full-time RVing is a whole lot different today than it was even 10 years ago. It’s crowded out there and that frustrated me. I found it a lot more of a hassle to travel freely, going where I wanted to go on a whim, which is the way I like to travel. It’s not easy to do that anymore.

But, you know, I can’t explain why I stopped full-timing every time I write a story. So readers, perhaps like you, can’t really know my true motives for my actions. We each have our unique ways of living our lives and what works (or does not work) for me may not work for you or others.

I can’t count the number of people I know who love their full-time lifestyle. They make it work and it’s a dream life. But, for me, two years of living such a life was less satisfying than doing it part-time. So now I have a traditional home and my “mobile” home, and I can enjoy the best of both worlds.

If you plan to travel full-time with an RV, don’t let what I say stop you. Do it! It may end up being the greatest adventure of your life.

Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodburyhttps://rvtravel.com
I'm the founder and publisher of RVtravel.com. I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.


  1. Could not agree more with Chuck on this one. The changes have made RV’ing less fun for lots of folks. We also miss the freedom we used to have and find that we have to plan more and have less spur of the moment choices than we used to. We do not boon dock as that is not the type of RV life we enjoy. We also don’t need top end resorts either. But in all honesty, the choices at both ends, and especially in the middle have gotten a lot slimmer. We enjoy our RV and any thing that makes us unhappy in our endeavors, we avoid. I do not enjoy camping out in WalMart parking lots. That is an acceptable and enjoyable life for some but not us. I refused to retire from work until it got to where it was no fun going to work each day. When that happened, we retired. When constant RV’ing stops being what I want in life, we will also move on and find other alternatives. Like Chuck, we will always have our RV. Just not travel all the time in it.

  2. When my wife and I decided to go full-time, we went all in. Sold our house of 30 years and everything in it, gave away what we couldn’t sell, handed the keys to the realtor and never looked back. Our M.O. was to travel for a couple of months, volunteer or work somewhere for four or five months. Our “adventure” was a welcome respite from a lifetime of deep roots.

    My wife died the day after Thanksgiving, and now I’m not sure if adventure is still in my future. Without my partner of 39 years to share things with, much of what the road holds for me is not that interesting. I will commit to two more years out here, and then I’ll decide. I have plans to reconfigure the inside of our fiver to eliminate extra sleeping space and make working while traveling more productive.

    The upshot is this: full timing in an RV is not a religion, it’s a way of living every day. What you get out of it has a lot to do with what you put into it, and more importantly, why. Home is not a place, it’s a feeling.

    • Good post. Based on my experience with grief, you are wise to focus on projects and ‘keep rolling’ as time starts to lessen the impact of this loss.

      Do use groups as a way to reach out and build a network of friends as you go, whether solo clubs, interest groups, Rvillaging, or whatever. The next chapter can be really good, even if we would rather have done it with our beloved.

      • Thank you. I’m feeling my way as I go, and have already made much progress. There’s no durable instruction manual for grief, it’s different for everyone, and there is only one day to be handled at a time. We just have to keep moving.

  3. As usual, a torrent of snowbirds and home-base folks weigh in. It would be so nice to discuss the full-timing issues with those who actually do it.

  4. We never plan on full-timing. We have a paid for home in Arizona which is perfect for the winters. In the summer, when we no longer have to worry about the pandemic, we will hit the road. Once Canada opens up again we plan to spend our summers there exploring the various provinces, we figure that will take us years, so for now we’re in planning mode.

  5. I do not know that I will ever really really full time. I want to but at the same time having a home base is still appealing to me. I expect that we will probably give it a try for a couple of years and end up part timer snowbirds.

  6. I think your reference to preferring to travel on a whim seems like just a slight negative to one who has not been a full timer and they don’t really understand how big that is. To me, that is HUGE and completely changes this lifestyle – not enough to make me abandon it yet, but enough to take a lot of the fun out of it.

  7. Thank you Chuck for your help and for giving me a place to review my ideas on fulltiming . We started out popup and tent camping , now we are in our seventh year motorhoming . I don’t always have the finances to contribute more but I read this news letter religiously . Every time I read the newsletter ,I learn something or remember something. Because of your adventures camping I see things through another pair of eyes. Thanks for everything . Roy… PS. sorry for being so wordy, but it just came pouring out!

  8. After 10 years of retirement and part-time RVing, we decided to try the full-timer lifestyle. We got rid of most furniture, stuffed everything else into a storage unit and sold the house. After 8 months of roaming, we realized that the stuff in storage was more important to us than we realized. It included our hobbies, crafts, photos, antiques, musical instruments, tools and other things we liked to do but couldn’t take on the road. We soon bought another house, emptied the storage unit and are now happily enjoying our home life while also making plenty of time for RV travel. There’s no “correct” way to do it. Different strokes for different folks.

  9. Been RVing for 40 years now and just celebrated my 76th birthday. The first 30 years were somewhat planned. What is there to see in this area? How many days will it take so see stuff? No reservations ahead of time except for a place like Disney World. Couldn’t do that now. Weekends are booked up. Winters in the south and summers up north. Best of both worlds.

  10. Our joy in RVing has been to just go where ever the wind blows us. We have never made reservations in advance choosing to find a place when we get there or see how tired we are and call for a spot toward the end of the days travel. So far we have always found a spot, sometimes we paid more than we wanted but that will happen. We have only traveled locally this last year because of covid but this summer we will be headed to California from Florida to visit family there and along the way. We may be changing the way how we go this year getting reservations but it will hurt when we find a place we like and want to stay longer. Things are changing and we will have to adapt.

  11. For us, it is great to have a “brick-and-mortar” base-of-operations. That way, we can travel when we want (by closing down the house — with a checklist) but always have a place to recover in leisure.

  12. Aah, the appeal of the open road. The last 20 years of my career my late wife and I talked about going full time. 1 month after retirement i announced it was time to start preparations to sell our “ranch” and prepare to start our full timing vacation at which time I was informed she had no intentions of living in a 5th wheel. 15 years later she passed away and after the grieving time I decided it was time to finally move on I bought a used class A. During my transition time of getting out of sticks and bricks I met my wonderful wife of present who was interested in the full timers life style. We worked together on our lifestyle for 4 years just going to warmer climates for the winter months returning home to her sticks and bricks for the summers back to mowing grass. In our last excursion to FL for the ‘19-‘20 we discussed whether we should continue our lifestyle or just sell our motorhome and retire in south central TN this was after we had successfully gotten our motorhome just the –

    • way we wanted it. All this last winter we would look at each other and ask why did we do this, we could be enjoying the better climate. I forgot to say we are in our senior years 81&78, both in good health not just good for our age but good health. After many hours of discussion we have decided to continue on a smaller scale. We are going to buy a smaller travel trailer and restrict our travels to shorter trips but more often as we never did enjoy setting up for 4-6 months at a time. We get bored with the area we’re in after 3-4 weeks, so if we decide on an extended trip our reservations will be for no longer than 4 weeks at a time then move to a new area. We’ll continue this as long as our health holds up, then we or God will decide our next move.

  13. I’ll keep mine short. Thanks for keeping up with RVT. We also experience the crowds and sudden surge in Rving, and difficult times getting sites. I HOPE it’s just a short pause during this pandemic and we can get back on the road soon.
    Keep positive. There’s too many sour grapes out there on social media that will try to tear you apart. Keep up the good work, see you someday on the road!

  14. We treat our RV as a second home. When the midwest weather is nice, we stay in our sticks and bricks home so we can catch up with friends and family. Summers and winters are spent in the RV. Arizona has become our winter home, but in the summer we travel this beautiful country being amazed with our wonderful National parks.

  15. Chuck, we have never been a “Full Timer” but we do enjoy the RV Lifestyle. When in the USAF, I was constantly moving and spent a lot of time on the road. I can recall two years where I averaged 180 days on the road. When I retired from the USAF, I spent several years with my own business which restricted my desire to travel and see the world. I sold the business and got a job teaching which allowed me to be off when my children were in school. Of course now, the children are all grown and scattered from Florida to Alaska along with the grandchildren. Over the years, I have developed an aversion to Motels and baggage so now we travel in our motor home and bring our Jeep Grand Cherokee with us.

    I have owned an RV since 1967 and have enjoyed the love of being free but we have always maintained a stick and brick anchor, With today’s situation, it gives me peace of mind knowing that if something happens, we have a place to return to.

  16. We have been camping for over 30 years, and retired 5 years ago. We have spent 6 months of the year on the road, but return to our home to center ourselves; we did want to become a visitor in our own hometown!

    I am also wagonmaster of our camping club and can confirm the issue with campgrounds getting more crowded and stricter policies, such as non-refundable deposits add-on fees.

    The solution which has allowed us to continue to travel is volunteerism. We volunteer at national and state parks — sometimes for as little as a month — and use our days off to see the area. We also may choose to stay an extra week in some areas and are often able to get a paid site in the same park. We have also considered some of the non-profit RV volunteer sites, such as disaster relief organizations, Habitat for Humanity, et al.

    Many parks are begging for help…the last park we left had no volunteers to fill our slots. The USFS park at which we worked this year, for instance, tells us that in their district alone the value of the volunteers’ service was equivalent to 15 FTEs. And the flooding and fires across the nation have created a lot of volunteer opportunities to help in rebuilding.

    While we love RVing, one of the things we missed was community involvement. Volunteerism give us the chance to fill that void while meeting others and exploring new places. Win-win for us.

  17. Its wonderful that we the opportunity to choose what we call home in this great country. Even though some areas seem to be getting crowded and restrictions are increasing, there are great places to live in an RV if you seek them out. We have found Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Idaho to be awesome.

    Now in our later 60’s, we have been full time RV’rs for 7 of the past 11 years, staying in our own home town a portion of that time. We have rented out our home and have no desire to go back. By simplifying and downsizing we have more time to live life, enjoy friends and family and less time maintaining a home and mowing lawns, etc. You are right… its not for everybody and the timing needs to be right. It would be challenging to “Full time”, while raising kids or possibly in our later years when steps and stairs became too challenging to navigate, but for now, we will continue to love the “Good Life” in our 5th wheel.

    Thanks for the conversation.
    Dan V.

  18. I was an “extended time” RVer from 2010 (when I bought my Casita Spirit Deluxe Travel Trailer) until May, 2018 (when I sold my “stick & brick”). I was 66 years old when I started RVing full time and, I realized that as the years passed, there would come a time when it would be prudent to “hang up the keys”. I’m currently in good health and, plan to remain a full time RVer for the foreseeable future (in the 2015 Dynamax DX3-37RB Freightliner based, Class 7 HDT Super-C Class RV which I bought new in 2014). I can always buy another house / apartment / living space BUT, while I’m healthy enough to drive my big rig, I’m GOING for it! There’s just SO much to see, do and explore across America and, I can’t think of a better way to do that, then in an RV. I have a “Plan B” (and even a Plan C”) in place. To date, all my travels have been as a solo. If I can find a woman who has similar goals to mine and, we found we could “play nice” with each other, that would be great. In my opinion however, solo travel is preferable to just sitting home wishing I was out in the world doing nice things. I understand that living full time in an RV isn’t for everyone but, it IS working out nicely for me. 🙂

  19. Full timing might seem like a good idea but most people that I know have a home to go to and maybe live in their RV for 2-6 months. We have lived up to 6 months in our MH. We prefer to travel but only from Nov thru April. We bought an RV lot thought we would like staying in it for the winter ended up NOT enjoying it. I live to drive it and we like staying in some places for a couple of weeks then moving on. After 10 yrs of our winter traveling we decide to stay home this year enjoy our winter in SE WA state. We will miss the Florida Keys, Hilton Head l, Natches Miss,
    A few days in New Orleans, Naples Fl, but after a few stays abd going to other places too I asked myself now what? This winter we will not RV. We will fly to our NC kids for TG then come home put up a tree, decorate our house enjoy our friends and yes enjoy whatever weather we have. Puttering in the RV garage as well at home and go from there. We love our home, our friends and wouldn’t ever think about full timing.
    I have met a couple of full timers that weren’t happy. Said they thought it would be great sold their home because couldn’t afford traveling and keeping house.

    Many love Full timing. Try part timing first. If you can’t afford to do both keep your home would be my suggestion.

    Another women said we didn’t know how lucky we were to have our little home. Now we can’t afford to buy it back if it ever comes on the market.

  20. We have had one type or another of an rv since the 70’s when our 3 daughters so enjoyed going camping in our little 17′ Golden Falcon trailer (no toilet). Once the girls got into their teens, their enjoyment faltered to the point that the trailer sat for most of the year. Consequently we sold it and watched them grow into adulthood. Once the nest was empty, we bought a little Pop-up and did our own camping and enjoyed it so much we upgraded to a nice 25′ Coachmen travel trailer. We were getting close to retirement and spoke often of full timing, but we both had hobbies (woodshop and 64 Fairlane for me and quilting for her) that were just not conductive to living solely in an rv, much less a 25′ trailer. Sold that and bought a 35′ DP and did a whole lot of traveling throughout the west including canada and alaska and spent months on the road. However, that cinched it for us on our full timing plans as we so missed our hobbies. So, we purchased a very nice lot on an rv resort located on the Oregon coast (summer temps in the 60’s) and traded in the 35′ Dp for a 44′ DP and spend May through October there. The rest of the year we are back home with our hobbies and life long friends. We are half-timers, I guess and found that it really works for us.

  21. Our RVing history is similar to several below. Camped during vacations while working, then extended and full-time from 2004-2017 while retired. Enjoyed spontaneous boon-docking, as well as minimal advanced reservations at military and public campgrounds/RV parks — until the economy picked up about 2013-4. Had to start making more and more reservations, farther and farther in advance. Became nearly impossible to get into nice state and national park campgrounds. Campgrounds too crowded and expensive, even our favorite boon-docking places too crowded.

    The thrill was gone so we bought another house in 2017 and put our 5th-wheel in storage for almost two years. Went out to desert SW for two months last winter and had so many hassles, we sold the rig when we got back home. Don’t know if we’ll ever buy another one again. If we do, it’ll be used and smaller for shorter trips.

    I don’t mean to discourage folks from either extended or full-time RVing if they haven’t done it before. I think it’s more of a problem for those of us who remember the spontaneity we used to have, and less-crowded campgrounds and BLM/national forest sites. We have many great memories from our adventures.

  22. It is too crowded out there. Even CGs on military installations have become a problem getting into and that is about to get worse. I’m 71, just bought a 2019 Montana and 2019 F350 dually. I’m going to fight it another few years, as long as I can.
    I expect many that bought in the past 3 – 5 years will soon find the buying fad is not for them, too many problems on many fronts from repairs to CGs. Many are still looking for that serene site with the stream and no other units in site. The % willing to boondock drops every year. As costs rise even more will get discouraged. I think in the next few years we are going to see many thousands for sale and even more thousands being repossessed.

    • I hear you, Captn John, about the crowds. On the other hand, I am looking for the right person to stay on our rural property in N. California. We could use some help taking care of the property in exchange for site. Full hookup. Located on the river, surrounded by forests and 6 Wilderness Areas, mild 4-season climate. Better than boondocking!

  23. Hi Chuck, your assessment of the hassle of being a fulltime today is spot on. We were fulltimers for almost 5 years until my wife needed heart surgery in 2015. We needed a house for her to recover in. We loved our 5 year adventure and still spend 5-6 months per year in our motorhome. As you know the Pacific Northwest can be a bit wet and gray 5 months of the year so Arizona with our RV friends is very appealing. Thanks for your good work, hope to see you down the road sometime.

  24. Sold the house and tried full-timing a few years ago. It was fun but we hated the storage fees for all the stuff we couldn’t part with and the lack of connection with our home community, not to mention the desire to relax in our own yard, do some gardening, putter in the garage and participate in local organizations and activities. We still travel in the RV but enjoy a balance that works well for us.

  25. Not to worry,Chuck.We gave up on full timing because of overcrowded,and overpriced with no relief in sight,RV parks across the country.Add to that recipe worn out highways with bomb crater like potholes and beat out bridges and it’s a lot of wear and tear,and money to fix,anyone’s RV.After getting burned by an unscrupulous RV dealer in Pasco,Washington…something about a dog RV company..I will never buy another new RV again.The RV industry just doesn’t care about the consumer,they only care about shareholder profits.So they can stuff their new RV’s where the sun doesn’t shine.Nothing wrong with having and using a well kept older RV that is paid for and you can fix yourself,instead of dealing with ripoff warranties and greedy dealers.Seems this entire nation has become part of the problem anymore,instead of part of the solution.

  26. Well Chuck everyone has a different view obviously. As for us, we have been full timing 10 years so far and if it were up to my wife we would never stop but oddly it is me that wants a garage/workshop to “putter” around in and that is the one thing I have missed the most over the years. Besides the difficulty of being spontaneous I have also found it difficult to simply wash/wax my motor home since so many RV parks ban that activity now. However, I am actually worried that if we bought a place to return to that I might fall into so much routine that we would not travel as much again……gee, what a tough life we have? All I have to do is look at the 24000 or so pictures we have taken to remember how great the adventure has been and even I’m not sure I want it to end entirely. Fortunately, our health is very good and we can still do RVing and anything else we like.

  27. I worked for General Motors for 30 years and the last 15 I was planning on retiring and selling out for a full timing life right down to buying a truck and 5th wheel. Finally the big day came, I retired and my wife informed me she was not going to spend the rest of her life living in a camper. Long story shortened we couldn’t meet our expenses of home ownership and RV lifestyle on 1/3 the income, plus my wife’s health began its downward spiral, so I went back to work doing various jobs. My wife lost her battle with lung cancer, yes she smoked herself to death, since then I found a wonderful lady and now we spend 6 months in FL and 6 months in south central TN. We are happy right now but we talk about selling the motorhome and buying a winter home in FL.

    • Bob, When you are looking, look at Lower Alabama. Much lower tax situation here. Property taxes are about 1/7 the Florida level.

  28. Great Response Chuck.

    Our RV experience has been more that 18 years now. We full timed for almost 2 years while my Career with the FAA was winding down!

    Now we are back to a sticks and bricks home with our 5th Wheel Parked in our RV shed next to the house.

    And as you say, it is crowded out there. For instance, we had to make reservations for an RV Park in Mobile, AL for the 2020 Mardi Gras parades (just happens to be the best place to go for Mardi Gras). Now, while it will be in February and pretty chilly (even in Alabama) it was necessary to get a reservation that far in advance. And I expect the Park to be PACKED!

    Not like it used to be, when you could call up on a WHIM, pack up and go!

    Full Timing might be fine for some, but I still love my own property to come home too and stretch out.

  29. I am firm believer that when it is time for you to come off the road you will know it. And Chuck you are correct that it is very crowded out there in the campgrounds. There are a lot of ‘entitled’ people RVing now. It used to be only once in a while you met ‘one of those’.

    I have said for the last couple of years that I was thinking about coming off the road. Suddenly, in April a very unique housing situation presented itself, my family connections changed and I made the decision to grab that unique house. I will be moving into my ‘new to me house’ shortly and will sell my Class A, buy a much smaller B+ and will travel on a part-time basis for a while….I think! I haven’t lived in a house for the last 10 years. Just getting adjusted to the idea is challenging in some ways.

    Good for you Chuck and Gail. I am so glad you gave it a chance and now you know it isn’t the life you want. Best of luck in the next next chapter of your lives.


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